By Sandra Kraisirideja
After Brett Ratner did such a terrible job on “X-Men: The Last Stand,” I had given up on his ability as a director but it looks like he’s found his way back.
“Tower Heist” is Ratner’s first full-length feature since “Rush Hour 3” in 2007 and the break has done him good. Ratner returns to a genre where he seems most comfortable—a high-concept comedy with some actions sequences.
He’s also has assembled a great cast, including Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Michael Pena, Ben Affleck, Alan Alda, Tea Leoni, Judd Hirsch, and Gabourey Sidibe.
Josh Kovacs (Stiller) has worked at the Tower for over a decade and knows everything about the building and its tenants. When finance mogul Arthur Shaw (Alda) is accused of fraud and all of his clients’ money—including the pension of the Tower employees—disappears, Kovacs conspires to rob Shaw of the millions he’s got stashed in his penthouse apartment. He’s aided by a former tenant (Broderick), his brother-in-law (Affleck), a new employee (Pena), and a petty criminal from his neighborhood (Murphy).
Leoni plays the FBI agent who arrests Shaw and begins a flirtatious relationship with Kovacs. In 1996 Leoni and Stiller starred together in “Flirting with Disaster” and they still have great chemistry.
“Tower Heist” is an entertaining ensemble comedy. It’s nice to see a heist movie where the characters are not professional thieves who have an unlimited bank roll and the latest high-tech gear. Since Kovacs and his crew have never done anything like this before it adds a level of suspense and uncertainty that makes it more fun to watch.
It’s also great to see Stiller play a different kind of character than he’s known for—the anxious, neurotic guy who gets into uncomfortable situations. Kovacs is confident, self-assured and not afraid to get a little violent when necessary.
Murphy doesn’t tread new ground with his fast-talking portrayal of Slide, but he’s so good at doing it that it works. Alda typically plays lovable, grandfatherly types so he must have enjoyed playing somebody who is a real jerk in the end.
There is a growing dislike of the wealthy, as seen in the increasing number of Occupy Wall Street spin-offs, and “Tower Heist” lets viewers revel in a bit of revenge fantasy against the “1 percent,” even for just a couple of hours.